This game could have been billed as "George McQuarn vs. Human Nature."
The Cal State Fullerton coach insists that his players play hard every minute they're on the floor, but when you're facing the likes of Seattle University, well, it's a bit tough to reach the level of intensity he demands.
Human nature probably won out, but then again so did the Titans . . . by 52 points, the largest margin of victory in school history. Monday night's 91-39 nonconference win at Titan Gym was Fullerton's fifth straight and probably the least impressive of the streak.
In case you were wondering, the Chieftains didn't remind anyone of the Elgin Baylor-led team that lost to Kentucky in the NCAA championship game in 1958. In fact, that team--wherever it is now--could probably beat this one.
Whoever set up the Seattle schedule must have had a grudge against first-year Coach Bob Johnson, a former assistant of Marv Harshman at Washington. Seattle began a six-game trip with a 50-point loss at Stanford Friday. It will finish it two days before Christmas at Georgetown .
"This is just the beginning of a very long road trip for us," Johnson said. "We'll just have to tough it out."
Monday night, the Chieftains (1-7) had a tough time getting a shot off. Many of the 1,674 in attendance were chanting "Boring, boring, boring," at the Seattle offense, but the players were doing everything in their power to get off a shot. And we're not talking high-percentage shots, either. They were getting 20-foot jumpers stuffed back in their faces.
In the early going, the Titans (7-3) looked as if they wished they were home watching Monday Night Football. After five minutes, Fullerton had a 10-8 lead. But the Titan defense created 16 first-half turnovers and by the intermission, Fullerton was up, 42-21.
If the Chieftains had made every first-half field goal they attempted, they would have trailed by three at halftime.
"I think you saw some of the emotional letdown after Saturday's win (over Loyola) in the first half tonight," McQuarn said. "But we came back much stronger in the second half and at least there wasn't a lot of selfishness. We stayed pretty much within our offensive and defensive concepts.
"This kind of game helps a team in terms of chemistry. It's important that the whole team has enthusiasm, enjoys each other and gets the chance to contribute. We hoped we could get the young kids a substantial amount of playing time and we were able to do that."
The Chieftains were down by about 35 points when McQuarn cleared his bench, and they were also wilting fast. The fresh Titan reserves looked like the Boston Celtics in a church league.
Kevin Henderson, who has a school-record free-throw string of 31, scored 20 points but didn't get a free throw. There weren't any Seattle players quick enough to foul him. In fact, the Chieftains sent Fullerton to the line just nine times all night.
"You can't feel sorry for them when you're out there," Henderson said. "That's basketball. It was a good game for the young kids . . . hey, what else can you say."
The Chieftains' only real offensive threat was Scott Harris, a 6-foot 3-inch forward, who scored 14 points.
Fullerton's sophomore starters Richard Morton, who was 8 of 15 from the floor for 16 points, and Henry Turner, who was 5 of 7 for 10 points with a team-high 8 rebounds, had typically solid performances.
Senior Kerry Boagni, who sprained the ring finger on his right (shooting) hand in practice Sunday, had an off night, hitting just 3 of 11 field goal attempts.
"I hate to make excuses, but it did hurt," Boagni said. "It hurts when I shoot and it hurts when I catch a pass."
For the Chieftains, it only hurts when they look at the scoreboard.
"We were playing what we call a tight zone to invite them to shoot from away," Johnson said, "but they were hitting them so it didn't make much difference . . . except the zone may have kept the score down."
Thank God. The Titans have a new scoreboard, but it only has three digits for each team.